Response to the early re-instatement of ‘group chat’ students

We wish to express our dismay at the recent University of Warwick decision to reduce the suspension period of two of the students responsible for a ‘group chat’ that included racist, sexist and homophobic language and threats, directed toward their peers.

As a branch, Warwick UCU is committed to defending the right of students, our members, and other staff to study and work without fear of harassment, bullying, or discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation, in line with the Equality Act 2010. As when the incident first occurred, we believe this to be both a student issue and a workplace issue. The prospect of sharing a classroom and other university spaces with individuals who would so unabashedly express such violent views about their peers is deeply troubling for students and staff alike.

While we appreciate the confidential nature of disciplinary proceedings and that there may be factors in this decision that are beyond our knowledge, we nonetheless believe this outcome seriously compromises the University’s commitment to ensuring a safe learning and working environment that values equality and diversity. It undermines the Dignity at Warwick policy. It also profoundly diminishes our faith in the University to appropriately deal with incidents of this nature and to put the best interests of those being targeted first. More specifically, we believe it is unacceptable that the students in question will be allowed to return to campus before those who were harmed by this incident have finished their studies.

Furthermore, the University’s response to the widespread concern with this decision has so far been inadequate. While we appreciate that the University has made it abundantly clear that it does not condone the actions of these students, we believe more must be done to create transparency and restore confidence in the University. The suggestion that those who are concerned seek support from Wellbeing Services does nothing to acknowledge the systemic nature of this and related issues, while also transferring responsibility for this injustice onto individuals.  

We believe the University must respond not only with public statements but with actions by appointing an inclusive commission to review the University’s policies on harassment, bullying and discrimination, as well as on the disciplinary procedure itself. We feel that an open conversation on the defects in a university culture which allows for such situations to arise is urgently necessary.

Finally, we wish to extend our continued support to the students who were immediately affected by this incident and who continue to experience its impact in their lives. We admire the strength and courage of those who have come forward to make the outcome of this appeal public knowledge.

Warwick UCU


Updates on Statute 24, Branch Admin & Protests

Statute 24, the Assembly, and Next Steps.

Some of you will have seen the Provost’s update on Statute 24, published on Insite yesterday. In this update, the Provost lays out the University’s new plan for the revision of Statute 24 following the cancelation of the Assembly on 29 June. Of importance are three key steps: first, last week Senate approved the sending of a draft of the updated Statutes to the Privy Council for informal review and that review will take place over the summer. Second, the Provost says the adjourned Assembly will be rescheduled for sometime in September or early October prior to further Senate and Council discussions. Third, the Provost says that the University will undertake further consultation with trade unions and assembly members over the summer.

We are glad that the University has backtracked from its previous attempts to push these changes to Statute and Ordinance through and now appears to be committed to engaging in consultation with us and other trade unions on campus and to rescheduling an Assembly so that more time can be given to study and meaningfully discuss the relevant documents. However, we also have some serious concerns. First, we are disappointed that the Statutes are being sent to the Privy Council for review before consultation with trade unions and the Assembly has taken place and we are quite apprehensive that this could undermine the potential of meaningful consultation. Second, we remain concerned by the timing of these processes as it’s very difficult to engage in meaningful consultation during summer term. And third, we have not yet been contacted by the University and have not yet ascertained how meaningful this consultation will be. Thus we are cautiously optimistic, but certainly not assured of this process. We will keep you updated of any further developments.

Warwick UCU is hiring

After many years, our fabulous Branch Administrator, Claire Duffy, stepped down earlier this summer. We are now hiring a new Branch Administrator. If you know anyone who is committed to Trade Union politics and has experience doing administrative, web, and organising and recruiting work, please forward this advert onto them!

In the meantime, we ask that you be patient with us as we are currently without an administrator and so may take a longer time to respond.

Two Important Protests which UCU National is Supporting 

 Anti-Trump Protest Friday 13 July 2pm Portland Place, London W1A 1AA followed by a rally at 5pm in Trafalgar Square. Please be there to show Trump he is not welcome and that we in the UK trade union movement oppose his divisive and racist policies.

Link here:

Stand Up to Racism ‘Oppose the Nazis and Tommy Robinson’ event Saturday 14 July 2pm Whitehall, London SW1A.

It is vital we mobilise against the pernicious ideology peddled by Tommy Robinson and his friends in the so-called Football Lads Alliance.

Link here:

Update on Salaries Sacrificed During the Pension Dispute

Warwick UCU is pleased that the salaries sacrificed during the industrial action to protect our pensions will be used to help students, and especially those who are in most need. It is a standard request we make of the University during any industrial action that money be diverted to the student hardship fund and we are grateful that the university has chosen to take our views into account.

As always, let us know if you have any questions.

In solidarity,

Warwick UCU

Recent incidents of Violent Misogyny and Racism on Campus

Dear all,

It has come to our attention that a series of incidents involving appalling racist and sexist content posted by Warwick students in an online group chat has recently been made public on social media, and that this which has led to an ongoing university investigation and the suspension of eleven students.

As a branch, Warwick UCU is committed to defend the right of students and our members to study and work without fear of harassment, bullying, or discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation, in line with the Equality Act 2010. As such, we are deeply concerned with the situation, which we strongly condemn, and would like to extend our support to the students who were targeted by those comments and we also hope that a swift and thorough investigation of the incidents takes place.

We also understand this incident to be both a student issue and a workplace issue – it is unclear whether some of these threats were directed toward students or teachers and other staff members of the university, but it is clear that this affects us all. We see these leaked chats is a wake-up call that demands both immediate and long term action to change the culture of our campus.

This is far from being the first such incident on campus in recent years. We therefore think it is imperative that the danger of racist, sexist and homophobic abuse be frontally acknowledged as a challenge which is faced on a regular basis by both students and staff. We also feel that, in a situation where there is evidently a mounting backlash against diversity and inclusivity, it is important that university leaders eventually initiate a campus-wide discussion on the implications of such situations. Several elements of university policy – Home Office regulations targeting students on Tier 4 visas, the implications of Prevent strategy, and the threats to academic freedom posed by proposed changes to Statute 24 – make us deeply concerned that the overall climate on campus is becoming more conducive to the discriminatory targetting of students and staff in positions of structural vulnerability. All this needs to be discussed openly and honestly. While the immediate need of the moment is sustained support for the students targeted by this appalling recent incident, we feel that an open conversation on the defects in a university culture which allows for such situations to arise is urgently necessary.

We note that at Exeter University a similar incident occurred which led to the establishment of a new Commission to put forth recommendations on how to ensure harassment and discrimination don’t happen on campus or, if they happen, that they’re properly dealt with. This new commission, led by the Provost, includes student representatives (president of Students’ Guild and rep of the African-Caribbean Society), and staff from the Equality and Diversity team, Race Equality Group, Women’s/Athena SWAN group, LGBTQ+ staff network, disabled staff, HR, colleges’ Equality reps, including union reps. We would ask that Warwick University implement a similar process, with the SU and Warwick UCU, to do everything we can to stop incidents such as these from happening again in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Warwick UCU